Trea’s Birth story

The delivery was a c-section.  My choice. Many people will silently judge me for making that decision.  Many people will envy the fact that I was able to make the decision, when so often women are forced/coerced into having c-sections when they aren’t medically necessary.  I chose this option.  The OB on-call tried her hardest to talk me out of it–reminding me of all of the benefits of a vaginal delivery and the possible complications of a c-section.  She was very positive, affirming and persuasive; and I love that she tried so hard to empower me.

Here is my story of why I chose an elective C-section for my final birth.

I was in tremendous pain for several days before the delivery-I’ve had pubic bone separation and hip pain for months that made walking, moving and standing painful. I have had this since early in pregnancy, however, the last week of my pregnancy was by far the worst.  On top of being in acute pain every time I moved, I was sick–headache, sore throat, fever and body aches.  I was exhausted and wasn’t sleeping–3 nights running with little to no sleep.

The day before Trea was born, I had my 40 week OB appointment.  Every time someone touched me for the simplest of procedures I cringed.  My nerves were shot–and I was edgy.  I begged (and actually cried in her office) my OB to induce me on Fri morn. She agreed, after giving me the lecture on risks of uterine rupture (up from  0.5% to 1.5%) and other complications. I went home feeling excited about the next day and optimistic that there was an end in sight.  Tomorrow I would be holding my little girl.

Jeff’s parents arrived that afternoon, and I spent the afternoon in bed, hiding under the blankets with a fever.  We got everyone settled for the night and I decided on a bath and then bed, as my indication appt was at 6am.  Best to get as much sleep as possible.  During my bath, I realized that I had not felt Trea move for a while…and she typically moved a lot!  I decided, for the first time in my pregnancy, to do a formal kick count.  I took 90 minutes and had only felt a few movements.  I freaked out.  I made Jeff take me back to L&D to be sure she was OK.

She was fine, but I wasn’t.  I was panicked, my heart rate was high, and I was on edge.  I was scared and exhausted.  We spent a good portion of the night in L&D waiting for tests and doctors.  They were very busy with many women in labor and delivering.

I decided then, just a few hours from my induction, and after considering my mental and physical state, the expected size of Trea (9 lbs or more), my hemorrhoids (out of control!), the recovery experience I had with Spencer and the risks, to opt for a c-section. We went home and rested for a few hours–the first chunk of sleep I had in days!  It felt great and I felt at peace.

L&D was busy when we arrived.  Our appt. was moved back several times for emergent C-sections.  Everything went fine during the procedure, though I was so very nervous!  I was most nervous about the epidural (I received a spinal block).  It went fine–though they did stick me twice!  And to make matters worse the nursing staff was counting their instruments while I was getting the spinal block.  The names of the instruments and the counting of them is a disconcerting experience.  I remember it vividly from Elliott’s birth.  I tried to go to my happy place, and hoped that I wouldn’t feel anything during the surgery (I didn’t).

Jeff was able to capture an amazing picture of Trea’s first moments of life outside the womb.

Welcome to the world!

After they removed her, Trea had some trouble breathing on her own.  They suctioned a ton of fluid from her tummy and gave her oxygen, but she was still struggling.  The doctors brought her over for a moment, and then they took her to the NICU-Jeff went with her.  I was left alone in the OR while they finished up my surgery and transferred me to the recovery room.

Jeff was moving back and forth from the NICU with Trea, to the recovery room with me.  He was giving updates and checking status–back and forth.  At one point, he was returning from seeing Trea and was about to walk into recovery only to be stopped by the nurses and me telling him to not look and stand back.  I had a slow postpartum hemorrhage, and while it was a lot of blood–it wasn’t enough to need a blood transfusion.  But it was enough to cause concern.  After both Trea and I were stable, I was allowed to be wheeled in to see her.  Finally after 4 plus hours–I was able to see my daughter.

During the time that I was in recovery–Trea received an IV, was on CPAP, and oxygen.  She had labs and a chest x-ray.  The initial thought was that she aspirated meconium, as there was some discoloration in my amniotic fluid.  So, they were treating her for possible sepsis.  They also were worried that during her struggle to breathe that she may have collapsed a lung.  Additionally, they worried that she might develop pneumonia, as she had fluid in her lungs.  The doctors didn’t know what would happen and all of these variables were floating around with no definitive answer.  It was a stressful time for Jeff and I both.

An emotional reunion.

Our reunion was cut short by me vomiting again (I also vomited right before I hemorrhaged)… and with all of the very sick babies in the NICU they quickly wheeled me back to recovery.  We made our way upstairs to the Maternity floor a few hours later, and then began our 3 hour rotation of visits to the NICU for the next several days.  I will detail that in a later post.

I don’t know if my decision to have a C-section caused the respiratory distress in Trea or if the way I was feeling was an external trigger that something was wrong and she needed to be delivered ASAP.  Respiratory distress can happen when babies are delivered via C-section or through a very quick vaginal delivery.  Contractions serve a greater purpose–they not only open the cervix to allow the baby to be born, but they push fluid from the lungs and stomach of babies on their journey out of a woman’s body.  I will never know the reason, and I am OK with that.  I do not regret my decision.  I do not mourn the loss of a vaginal delivery like I did after my first c-section.  And I am grateful that Trea was able to get the care she needed right away.  There is no way to know if she would have experienced the same distress during a vaginal delivery, or if she would’ve needed to be delivered emergently as a result.  All of these factors put my mind at ease.   I knew in my heart that I didn’t have the strength to endure labor.  Looking back, I needed to save all of my strength for handling my baby being in the NICU.

I am at peace with my decision.  My daughter is here, she is healthy and she is home.

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C-section remorse

In the old days, I used to subscribe to a whole slew of magazines. These days, I am more selective about my subscriptions and my time. With so little free time since Elliott’s birth, I had to make my parenting magazine selection carefully. I couldn’t fill my time with Parents, Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens. So, I chose my favorite mag-called Mothering. It is published semi-monthly, and when it arrives I usually read it cover to cover.

The cover article for this issue was on Cesarean births, the articles title is Cesarean birth in a culture of fear. The opening paragraph went something like this-Cesarean births are on the rise and are increasingly being performed even when they are not medically necessary. When I (the articles author) ask women why they think this rise is occurring– they may give a variety of reasons, but they will always justify their own need for a c-section as medically necessary…

I read the entire article, and thought it was a well researched article, and I dont wholly disagree with the author. When I finished reading it, I felt bad about my Cesarean and it made me begin to question again our birth choices. I felt like the author and therefore the magazine put a black cloud over my birth because I had a C-section. The opening statements of the article insinuated that women who have C-sections think they are necessary, even when they are not medically needed. I think the author is missing the point.

If a woman has a C-section, and felt it was necessary, isn’t that a short coming on the medical establishments part for misinforming us about the actual need, versus the alternatives? The fear is on the part of the doctors, yes. They are trying to avoid liability and lawsuits. And if that is the point of her article, I felt the author should be standing up for our rights regarding informed consent, looking for ways to educate us on how to avoid feeling pressured into a C-Section, and teaching people how to make more educated decisions while under the pressure of labor, fatigue, and pain. She should not be pulling the rug out from under us that have had a Cesarean birth. She devalues those women who have had C-section births by making a generalized comment like her opening statements.

The result, again, was me feeling judged by the author. And, at a time when I was almost emotionally healed…I am now questioning once again the necessity of my surgery, and therefore my proposed inability to deliver natural. I did all of the right things (and still failed). I was under the care of a Midwife. I took great care of myself during my pregnancy. I was low risk. I had a doula. I didnt take drugs during my labor (pain killers, an epidural, etc.), and labored naturally all the way to 10 centimeters. I pushed with all my might…for 3 hours! I followed the natural child birth prescription, and I still had a C-section. I had an abnormal labor condition-arrest of descent.

Was mine necessary? Was it medically the right thing to do? Could I have delivered my baby vaginally, without surgery? Was it safer for the hospital to suggest the surgery, versus risk an assisted delivery (which comes with a whole list of risks to the baby)? Did I make the right decision for both Elliott and myself? The tricky part about all of the questions and uncertainty is that I will never know for sure if the surgery was necessary. What the article doesnt tell you is when a C-Section is necessary. Or under what circumstances a Cesarean birth is suggested for the safety and health of the mother and child. I will always wonder if I could have pushed Elliott out, with a little help from pitocin and an epidural.

Everytime I use the restroom, I look at my incision. I feel my stomach, where it is still numb and sore to the touch and wonder if I could have avoided having a surgical delivery. I dont think a magazine that is supposed to support women, honor them as mothers, and hold them in high esteem would want their readerships take home message to be one of alienation and judgment. I am therefore very disappointed after reading this article that more thought was not rendered before delivering such a harsh blow to woman kind. I am also disappointed that an article that is calling our birth ritual ‘a culture of fear’, is using the same tactics to ‘educate’ its readership about the nuances of a Cesarean birth using a step by step diagram of the surgical procedures, with a header “so you want to have a cesarean?” Women and especially Moms already suffer from a tremendous amount of guilt. Should we be adding to their load by now questioning the way they birth?

While I cant change the course of events in my own life or their outcomes. I can say that I feel like in my case, a cesarean was the best option for us. If the author of the article wants to question that, I would encourage her to research and publish an article on how to avoid one, rather than one that instills fear in those first time Mom’s before they deliver.